American History & Hauntings


The Ghosts of Raleigh
Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh is a city which has the distinction of avoiding the wrath of General Sherman on his march through North Carolina in the final days of the Civil War. Sherman had already burned his way through Georgia and captured ports in South Carolina before heading north, hoping for the dubious pleasure of sacking Raleigh, the state capital. Just before the troops arrived, two elderly men appeared in Sherman’s camp, wearing top hats and waist coats. They had been sent on an errand of peace, hoping to avoid the burning and looting of the city during the Union occupation. The two old men had endured tremendous odds to get to Sherman, avoiding Union pickets and even getting caught in the middle of a gun battle. Impressed, Sherman agreed that he would not burn Raleigh as long as they met no resistance from the populace. The old men agreed and Sherman kept his word, sparing Raleigh from the destruction that he and his men had spread across the south.

And this is not Raleigh’s only connection to the war, it is also the birth place of Andrew Johnson, the vice-president under Lincoln and the man who took his place after Lincoln’s assassination. Johnson was born in Raleigh in 1808 and went on to become the seventeenth president in 1865. It is said that this house is haunted, although the identity of the ghost is unknown. It is said to appear in the form of a ghostly light, which can be seen from outside of a downstairs window.

The Executive Mansion for the North Carolina governor in Raleigh was also reportedly haunted for a time, although according to the stories, the strange events have ceased.
In 1970, Governor Bob Scott decided to replace the massive wooden bed in the second-floor bedroom of the mansion with a modern, king-sized bed. The original bed had been made in 1891 to precise measurements given to the carpenters by then governor, Daniel Fowle. He died in that same bed while still governor and some have suggested that his spirit remained with it.
The old bed was moved to a room on the third floor and the new bed was put in its place. A short time, later the governor began to be awakened at night by a strange rapping sound which came from the wall where the original headboard had been. The rapping continued for several years, through the rest of Governor Scott’s administration, and he admitted that his family had nicknamed the pesky spirit, "Governor Fowle’s Ghost".
The weird phenomenon ceased when a new administration took over the office. Not taking any chances... they decided to move the old bed back down to its original location.

The ghost has not been heard from since.

Another haunted spot is Mordecai Manor, a two-story mansion which is also located on Mordecai Square. This house was built in 1785 by Joel Lane and was named for Moses Mordecai, who married Lane’s daughter, Margaret. The old house is reportedly haunted by a woman who has been seen wearing a long black skirt, a white blouse and tie.

Located about three miles outside of the city is an area known as Poole’s Woods. It is here that a phantom white horse and its rider are said to be seen. The land was once owned by a man named William Poole, who was said to ride through the forest on his estate every evening until Union soldiers confiscated the horse from him during the Civil War. Poole was devastated and in his will, wrote that the 75 acres of woodland where he rode his beloved horse must be preserved without a single tree ever being removed.
Shortly after Poole’s death, a ghostly white horse began to be spotted along the road from Raleigh to his estate and in the woods surrounding the mansion. In the 1920’s, the woods were sold to commercial developers, but the trees proved to be worthless. As they were cut down, it was learned that each was rotting from the inside out.

The horse and rider are still seen today, even though the mansion has long since been torn down. The Poole Road begins just east of the old capitol building and runs southeast to New Bern Avenue.

Raleigh is located in central North Carolina.

Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.

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